Archive for the ‘ ~3 to 5 Miles~ ’ Category

Casey Farm – North Kingstown

  • Casey Farm
  • Boston Neck Road, North Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°30’43.45″N, 71°25’23.07″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 24, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.1 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

Most locals know Casey Farm for its farmer markets (one of the best in the state). Others know the farm for being a historical site. What a lot of people are not aware of is that Casey Farm offers miles of trails. Though the trails are not technically open to the public, on occasion there are guided walks of the trails. For this hike, I joined a small group attending a Rhode Island Land Trust Days event. The hike was led by the very knowledgeable Dr. Bob Kenney of the University of Rhode Island. Mr. Kenney, (a walking encyclopedia of birds, mushrooms, and plants) volunteers quite often for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Audubon Society. In fact this is not the first of his hikes I have been on. In 1659, several colonists bought the land on Boston Neck for a mere 18 cents per acre from the Narragansetts. One of these families were the Richardsons. By 1702 half of that property belonged to the family that founded Casey Farm. The farm stretched from Narragansett Bay to the Narrow River as it still does today. The property, a working farm, is protected and owned by Historic New England. Atop the hill along Boston Neck Road is where the farm is located. It consists of several fields and structures including a large barn as well as old New England style stone walls. The first part of the hike took us into the eastern part of the property down to Casey Point. The old cart path passes through areas of wildflowers including wild snapdragon, black swallowwort milkweed, and heart leaved aster. There is also an abundance of ferns, mushrooms, and an invasive shrub known as devils walking stick. This area is also a haven for birds as we saw and heard catbirds, woodpeckers, and red tailed hawks. When we reached the point we had sweeping views of the west passage of Narragansett Bay. Across the bay is Jamestown and the large open field is part of Watson Farm (another Historic New England property). Beyond Jamestown you will see the Newport Bridge. To the north is the Jamestown Bridge and Plum Point Lighthouse. To the south you can see Beavertail Light and Dutch Island Light. After spending a little time on the point we retraced our steps back to the farm. From here we then followed another stone walled flanked cart path toward the heavily wooded western end of the property. We briefly entered the neighboring King Preserve, the newest Nature Conservancy property in Rhode Island. This preserve is a work in progress still. Most of the major trails are complete and open, however, there are a section of trails yet to be built. The trails are soft and there are boardwalks that cross wet areas and streams. There is plenty of ferns in this area among the birch trees and sassafras. We nearly reached the Narrow River at the bottom of the hill before making our way back uphill along old cart paths and dirt roads winding through the Casey Farm property. This stretch of the hike also offer sounds and sights of nuthatches, tufted titmouses, and eastern towhees. We then returned to the farm to conclude the hike. Casey Farm is open from June 1st to October 15th on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. There are also tours of the farm available. For more information please call 401-295-1030.

 

Dr. Bob will be leading another Casey Farm Nature Walk on Saturday October 8th.

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Casey Point with The Newport Bridge in the distance.

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Flanked by Wildflowers

Hanton City – Smithfield

  • Hanton City
  • Smithfield, RI
  • Trailhead: Undisclosed
  • Last Time Hiked: September 17, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.3 miles
  • Fairly easy, slight elevation.

 

Yesteryear there existed a cluster of buildings in the woods of what is now Smithfield. This town was in an extremely remote area miles from any other towns or villages. The town was eventually abandoned and all that remains are several cellar holes, wells, and stone walls. It is known as Hanton City and there are several theories of why the town existed in the first place. Some believe that maybe the occupants were loyalists to the British throne during the American Revolution, others believe that maybe these occupants were diseased and forced to live away from the general public. Regardless, they had a small but fully functioning village in the remote woods of Northern Rhode Island. The properties in the area are owned by several different groups. Some of it is privately owned, some owned by nearby Fidelity. The rest is owned by the Audubon Society and the Smithfield Land Trust. The area is not open to the public and access is available occasionally when the Smithfield Land Trust leads guided group tours of the property.

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Cellar Hole With Shelves

 

Dark Hollow Brook – Voluntown/Griswold

  • Dark Hollow Brook
  • Hodge Pond Road, Voluntown, CT
  • Trailhead: 41°32’28.76″N, 71°51’27.01″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 16, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.0 miles
  • Moderate due to navigation, some significant elevation.

 

If you like stone walls and ledges, this is the hike for you. I met with fellow hiker Auntie Beak for this mid afternoon hike in the Pachaug State Forest in Connecticut. She has done this hike on several occasions and it was nice to relax and just follow her lead. The trails here are not blazed, therefore it is recommended to obtain a copy of the map for the forest trails and use GPS. (If you use Auntie Beaks map, linked below, note that we did the southern portion of her overall hike). Starting from the parking area just west of Kinney Brook along Hodge Pond Road we followed the old dirt road south into the forest. The first part of this hike you will continue straight along the main road ignoring side trails. After climbing uphill for a bit we came upon an old stone building. The stone work is quite impressive. Continuing along the old dirt road, immediately following the stone building is an open field with flowers. It appears this might have once been a garden. Further ahead is a seasonal brook and waterfall to the right. Soon after there are some beautiful ledges as well. At the end of the road turn right and start heading northwest. You will start to see more impressive ledges along this stretch. At the next intersection merge to the left. The trail becomes much more primitive and narrow at this point as it meanders through a forest of rocks and boulders. Ahead, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, you will come to a bridge that crosses Dark Hollow Brook. At the next two trail splits stay to the left. You are now in the Town of Griswold. Ahead stay to the right, the trail now winds as it climbs uphill toward an old farm site. The trail soon becomes flanked with stone walls. Take your time here and look around. There is a well here and several old farm tools abandoned years ago. The trail soon comes to another dirt road. Stay to the left here and follow the road back to the paved Hodge Pond Road. Turn right and follow the paved road downhill back to the parking area. You will pass a cemetery along the way. Hunting is allowed here and blazed orange is required during hunting season.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Dark Hollow Brook

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Trail Flanked By Stone Walls

DuVal Farm – South Kingstown

  • DuVal Farm/Susannah’s Woods
  • Post Road, South Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°24’1.81″N, 71°35’5.67″W
  • Last Time Hiked: August 28, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.9 miles
  • Moderate with some elevation.

 

Duval Farm, also known as Susannah’s Woods, is a South Kingstown Land Trust property that offers quite a bit. There are four separate trails here that wander through the woods, over hills, and by a pond. This property has an abundance of both mountain laurel and wild blueberries. Hiking in June for the mountain laurel or July for the blueberries are highly recommended. There is also a scenic overlook on the property and on clear days you can see Block Island. The view, somewhat boxed in by trees in the summer would be more impressive when the leaves are off the trees. There is a parking area in front of the cemetery along Post Road for a few automobiles. From here head west a few feet west along Post Road (following the blue blazes) to the trail head. The trail then heads into the woods passing a kiosk with the trail map. For this hike follow the blue blazed trail briefly to the first intersection. Turn left onto the red blazed trail (Polly’s Rock Loop). You will soon be along a ridge of a hill that is covered with low lying wild blueberry shrubs. The amount of them looks like waves along the slopes of the hills. You will also catch your first glimpse of the mountain laurel among the forest of oaks and pines. At the next intersection turn left onto the green blazed trail (Jones Camp Trail). The trail passes stone walls and areas of ferns. There are also some low lying wires to watch for. The trail will lead you west and eventually to Bull Head Pond. Near the end of the trail there is a small loop and you can see the pond through the trees. After the loop retrace your steps back to the red trail. Here turn left and follow the red blazes to the intersection of the yellow trail. Along the way there is a grove of mountain laurel that would look spectacular in bloom. The trail then climbs a rather significant hill before coming to a trail on the left. It is a short crossover trail that will shave a bit off your distance. For this hike continue straight following the red blazes passing the other end of the crossover trail. Soon you will reach the yellow trail (Lyn’s Loop) where you will turn left. The yellow trail heads north almost to Gravelly Hill Road before looping back south to a four way intersection with the blue blazed trail (DuVal Trail). Turn left here onto the Duval Trail and follow it to Gravelly Hill Road. Turn right onto the road and look for the blue blazed trail on the left just after a driveway. The trail then quickly climbs a hill, turns right (at the intersecton), and follows a ridge above the road. The blazes become far an few between along this stretch. Soon the trail widens at a rocky and sandy area. This is the overlook where on clear days you can see the ocean and Block Island off in the distance. The Duval Trail continues for nearly 2 more miles (4 miles out and back) to Red House Road up and over several hills. If you would like a hike of up to eight miles feel free to hike to the end of the trail. For this hike retrace your steps along the blue blazed trail back to the four way intersection. Here you will turn left onto an unmarked trail (non-system trail) that quickly descends downhill. The trail splits, stay to the right and follow it to the back side of the cemetery. The other trail loops around and eventually rejoins the unmarked trail. The trail then passes through the cemetery. There are graves from the early 1800’s here and at the front end of the parcel is the site of a meeting house that was built in 1750. After passing through the cemetery the trail winds downhill to the parking area.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Duval Farm

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Pine Needle Covered Trail

Skunk Hill – Hopkinton

  • Skunk Hill – Arcadia Wildlife Management Area
  • Skunk Hill Road, Hopkinton, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°32’36.79″N, 71°43’35.60″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 13, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.1 miles
  • Moderate.

 

This hike, on lesser known trails in the Arcadia Management Area, offered a wide array of animals and insects to view. Chipmunks, woodland birds, hawks, the aptly named Green June beetle, and an abundance of gypsy moth caterpillars were all observed on this hike. Thankfully, no skunk! I’ve also listed this hike as moderate for a couple of reasons. Though most of it is fairly easy, the trails here are not blazed, and in one section almost non-existent. There is also one stretch, being a hill, that climbs upward for a bit. I strongly advise having a trail map and/or GPS before doing this hike. Starting at a small parking area by a red gate on Skunk Hill Road I headed east descending slowly down Skunk Hill. The trail, named Richardson Trail, is a wide cart path. At about two-tenths of a mile there is a four way trail intersection. Turn right here. For the next half mile the trail follows the edge of the hill weaving through areas of mountain laurel. At the time of this hike the gypsy moth caterpillars were feasting on the woodland trees. The trail splits, stay to the left and again you will be descending downhill. There area tends to get wet and the trail can be muddy. About three tenths of a mile from the last intersection you will want to look for a narrow trail on the left. There is a small clearing in the area of the turn, but if you are not looking for it you will miss it. After turning left, follow the narrow trail out to Blitzkrieg Trail and turn left again. If you went the right way you should be on a dirt road with a gate. A driveway to the right will have a “Private” and “Deaf Cat” sign. For the next six tenths of a mile you will follow the Blitzkrieg Trail passing the unmarked but gated Richardson Trail on the left. After you come around the bend you will see a red gate ahead of you in the distance. Start looking for a trail on the left with a hill at its beginning. If you came to the stream you went too far. After turning onto the trail you will be following a small stream for a bit. It is on the right but the ferns hide it very well. Soon the trail starts it climb back up hill. After climbing the hill and about a half mile from the beginning of this trail there is a trail on the left. If your are adventurous then turn left here. It is a very narrow trail that is very overgrown and leads you back to the four way trail intersection at the Richardson Trail where you came in on. If you take this trail turn right at the Richardson Trail and follow back to the parking area. For the less adventurous, continue straight, the trail will lead you back to Skunk Hill Road where you can turn left and follow the road back to the parking area.

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Trail on Skunk Hill

The Pines – Exeter

  • The Pines – Arcadia Wildlife Management Area
  • Mount Tom Road, Exeter, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°33’52.54″N, 71°43’43.33″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 6, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.6 miles
  • Mostly easy, very difficult in areas.

 

This is one of those hikes I would not suggest for beginners or those uncomfortable with being in very remote sections of the woods. In order to do this hike as described you should have a good sense of direction, instinct, and balance. Bushwhacking is required in one spot. A copy of the Great Swamp Press map for this area is highly suggested as well as GPS for backtracking. There are three distinctively different parts to this hike. The beginning and the loop around Deep Pond are nice gentle trails, a good portion is walking along dirt roads, and a stretch that follows an unmarked narrow trail has many challenges. This hike starts at where the Mount Tom Trail crosses Mount Tom Road. The reason for that is that a large portion of this hike is in areas where the gates are seasonably closed to automobile traffic. From the small parking area, follow the Mount Tom Trail east following the shore of Parris Brook. When you reach the Blitzkrieg Trail, turn right and cross over the bridge. The Blitzkrieg Trail is a dirt road that is surrounded by mostly tall pines. Follow it about three tenths of a mile to the beginning of the Deep Pond Trail on the left. Soon another dirt road on the right appears. This is the road to Deep Pond. Take this and then follow the loop trail around Deep Pond. The trail is rather narrow in areas and some sections tend to flood after excessive rain. After doing the loop return back to Deep Pond Trail and then turn right. You will see a rather large swamp area to the left. At the time of this hike I saw several ducks here. At the end of Deep Pond Trail there is a gate to the right. Pass the gate and make your way to the Wood River. Here is a canoe launch and people fish here quite often. This is the point where you may want to turn back and retrace your steps if you are not comfortable with a rather challenging hike. To the right you will see a rather narrow, leaf covered trail. For the next 3/4 of a mile, take your time. This trail, root bound in spots, is very narrow at times and rises above the river below. One slip could be disastrous. The trail also becomes undistinguishable at points. Be patient and be prepared to backtrack. There is one spot where it seems impossible to complete. The trail comes out to a peninsula with the river to the left and what looks like an old mill race to the right and seems unable to cross. Backtrack a few feet looking for some old stonework below to the right. You can cross pretty easily here pushing the shrubbery aside. When you reach the other side the trail is visible again. Hunters and fisherman have also used flagging to mark parts of the trail. I found the flagging fairly reliable. There are a few spots to take in the beauty of the Wood River. Stop. Enjoy it. If you have come this far, you deserve to take a few moments to enjoy the remoteness. The trail will soon come out to a parking area at the end of the Waterhole Trail. This area is known as The Pines. There is another canoe launch here as well as a picnic table. To finish this hike, follow the Waterhole Trail west back out to Blitzkrieg Trail. After turning right, follow the Blitzkrieg Trail back to the bridge. Turn left and follow the Mount Tom Trail back to the parking area.

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Wood River near The Pines

Breakheart Brook – Exeter

  • Breakheart Brook/Tripp Trail
  • Ten Rod Road, Exeter, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°34’36.85″N, 71°42’21.23″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 5, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.6 miles
  • Fairly easy, some muddy areas.

 

This hike has it all! It follows some of the lesser used trails in the Arcadia Management Area that parallel some of the most used. While the John B. Hudson and Shelter Trails are heavily used, I decided to use the Tripp Trail, The Baton Trail, and an unnamed and stunningly beautiful trail along Breakheart Brook. This hike also visits two landmarks of Arcadia being Breakheart Pond and Frosty Hollow Pond. We started from the small parking area at the trailhead for the Tripp Trail at Ten Rod Road. The trail is an old dirt road the heads north into Arcadia. Almost immediately you will find a cellar hole and stone walls. Just ahead is a rather large vernal pool and mountain laurel starts to appear along the trail under the tall pines. There are a couple narrow spur trails along this stretch. Ignore them and continue straight. Soon you will reach and intersection with another dirt road to the left at about 3/4 of a mile into the hike. This is the Baton Trail and we would return on it. There is a sign on a tree here with an arrow directing toward Frosty Hollow. Continuing straight along Tripp Trail, we soon came upon the intersecting John B. Hudson Trail. It is blazed yellow. In fact it uses a short portion of the Tripp Trail. Continue straight here staying on the old dirt road. After a couple hundred feet the yellow blazes soon turn to the left and the old dirt road continues straight. Still continue straight. The trail soon to start slightly downhill before coming to its end. To the right is a small brook worth checking out before turning left onto Austin Farm Road. The road descends slightly downhill and soon the Breakheart Trail appears to the right. From here we continued straight to the dam and waterfall at Breakheart Pond. After crossing the bridge we stayed to the left on the dirt road briefly before turning left onto a very narrow path along the brook. The trail, unmarked and officially unnamed, follows Breakheart Brook for about 3/4 of a mile. It is one of the best stretches of trail in Rhode Island. The brook has several small rapids and waterfalls. The narrow trail, flanked by mountain laurel traverses along the bank and offers stunning views of the brook. Be sure to bring your camera. The trail climbs slightly uphill just as the brook turns to the left. After going up the hill, take the trail to the right. The trail to the left dead ends. The trail to the right soon bends to the left and passes another vernal pool before coming to Frosty Hollow Road. Turn left here and cross the bridge the crosses over Breakheart Brook. After crossing the bridge we turned left to the trailhead of the Baton Trail. But first we took a peek at Frosty Hollow Pond. The small kettle hole pond is known to be a great trout fishing spot. Today there was a thin layer of ice on it. Just after passing the gate at the Baton Trail, the white blazed, well known and well used Shelter Trail appears to the left. We continued straight and followed the Baton Trail to its end back at the Tripp Trail. Here we turned right and retraced our steps along the Tripp Trail back to the parking area.

 

For hikes in this area I would suggest obtaining a copy of the Great Swamp Press Map of the Arcadia Management Area.

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Breakheart Brook and the trail that follows it.